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Advanced Communicator manual: Speciality speeches

It happens very often to talk to newcomers and try to inspire and motivate them to join Toastmasters. My first reason why they should join (and why I am still here) is always about the safe environment where you can practice and deliver whatever type of speech or presentation that you need for your job, career development, school project or even job interview.

The job interview sells well given our guests are people looking for opportunities and most of them are interested in find something better/something new in their professional career.

So how true is it? Do we really have the freedom to speak about whatever we want or whatever we need? 

Definitely YES! The Speciality Speeches Advanced manual is the proof that Toastmasters thought about everything! Let’s see what this manual covers in the 5 projects it has in more detail:

Project 1: Speak Off the Cuff

The interesting aspect of it is that the speaker needs to prepare in advance 5 general topics areas with which he/she is familiar and give them to the speech evaluator before the meeting. He or she will randomly select one of them and the speaker will have to deliver a five- to seven-minute impromptu speech on that subject.

It is a great combination of impromptu-and-prepared speech as you can prepare in advance what the 5 topics will cover but it can always become impromptu at the moment when the evaluator picks the topic and you maybe suddenly think about it differently than before.

The objectives of this speech are to:

  • Develop an awareness of situations in which you might be called upon to deliver an impromptu speech.
  •  Understand how to prepare for impromptu speaking.
  • Develop skill as a speaker in the impromptu situation by using one or more patterns to approach a topic under discussion; for example, comparing a past, present, future situation or before and after.

Project 2: Uplift the Spirit

The purpose of this project is for the speaker to present an eight to ten minutes speech designed to rephrase the emotional consensus of the audience in terms of their beliefs, values and sentiments and in a language and style appropriate to the occasion.  The topic can be selected from the following categories: keynote address, political presentation, stockholders meeting, trade association or union meeting, sales convention rally, testimonial dinner or  organization banquet, sports rally, sales rally, religious service hence offers quite few options!

The objectives of this speech are to:

  •  Identify and understand the basic differences and similarities between inspirational speeches and other kinds of speeches.
  • Learn how to evaluate audience feeling and establish emotional rapport.
  • Develop a speech style and delivery that effectively expresses inspirational content by moving the aud

Project 3: Sell a Product

Sooner or later we all sell something! This project of 10 to 12 minutes requires the speaker to present a sales speech. The talk should be convincing on logical, informational and emotional levels and should be delivered in an extemporaneous manner. The focus of the talk should be the selling of a product or of a service. You may want to review the text of this project to be familiar with its objectives.

The objectives of this speech are to:

  • Understand the relationship of sales technique to persuasion.
  • Skillfully use the four steps in a sales presentation: attention, interest, desire, action.
  • Identify and promote a unique selling proposition in a sales presentation.
  • Be able to handle objections and close a prospective buyer.

Project 4: Read out Loud

The purpose of this project is for the speaker to present an interpretive reading from a literary work. Using rules of interpretative reading such as making effective use of voice, rhythm and body movement, the speaker should create an auditory and visual experience for the audience.

To make sure it is clearly understandable for oral presentation it is strongly advised to record and hear your voice or practice the reading to several different audicences before giving the presentation at the club meeting.

The objectives of this speech are to:

  • Arrive at an understanding of the elements that comprise oral interpretation and how it differs from preparing and giving a speech.
  • Learn the preparation or planning techniques of effective interpretation.
  • Learn the principles of presentation and develop skill in interpretive reading with regard to voice and body as instruments of communication.

Project 5: Introduce the Speaker

Probably the easiest of all for any advanced communicator as it requires to be the Toastmaster of the meeting, fulfilling the function of that position for the club meeting!

Apart from the objectives it is good to remember to keep the introductions brief, within one to three minutes, and to adhere to the following guidelines:

  1. The Opening: Capture the audience’s attention and emphasize the importance of the speaker.
  2. The Body: Why this speaker? Why this subject? Why this audience? Why this time?
  3. The Conclusion: It should lead to your actual presentation of the speaker.

At the end of the meeting, briefly thank all the speakers, and then introduce the Chairperson, who will conclude the meeting. Remember that you are the intermediary between the speaker and the audience. When you have completed your introduction, welcome the speaker with applause. Wait until the speaker arrives on stage and greet him or her before returning to your seat.

The objectives of this speech are to:

  • Focus on the special occasion talk from the standpoint of the introducer (function chairman, toastmaster, master of ceremonies).
  • Become knowledgeable and skilled in the functions associated with the master of ceremonies
  •  Handle the introduction of other speakers at a club meeting

Definitely one of the very exciting manuals to use for your speeches!

Ioana Augello


About Toastmasters for newcomers

Recently I have heard quite a lot of questions on what a new guest to our meeting should expect. Since the questions very often repeat, we decided to set up a short QA for guests:

Do I have to prepare something if I want to visit a Toastmasters meeting?
Definitely not! The meeting has many prepared roles, but they are all taken by our members. As a guest your role is to observer and enjoy the meeting 🙂

Will you want me to speak in front of an audience?
Just a little bit. There are two moments in the course of the meeting when we encourage the guests to speak. The first is the introduction, when both members and guests introduce themselves. All you are supposed to do is stand up and tell us your name and occupation. No need to go to the stage! The second time is at the end of the meeting, when we ask the guess for short feedback. You can tell us what you liked and especially what you would improve.
Moreover, almost every meeting has a part called Table topics. Those are short unprepared speeches, where you can participate even as a first time guest, if you want. Take a look at some of the topics here.

Is there something else I should do there?
No, just observe and enjoy.

What about the English? How good should my English be?
As we often say, Toastmasters are all about learning, and that includes improving English. We have few to none native speakers, so nobody of us speaks perfectly and the overall level of English varies rather widely. We even have a role called Grammarian that is dedicated to improving our English, as we often struggle with grammar. That said, in order to enjoy the meeting, you must be able to understand the language and to speak at least a little bit.
I very often encounter people, particularly from IT world, who have very good English, but are too shy to actually speak. If that is your case, believe that we have quite a few IT experts at the meetings and many of us had the same “shyness” issue. Many of us came to the Toastmasters with exactly to shake away that fear of speaking. Guess what – it worked 🙂

Do I have to pay to attend the meeting?
No. Attending the meeting is without any charge.

Should I wear formal clothes?
No. Even though we are Brno Business Toastmasters, we have no special dress-code for the meetings. It is most important that you feel comfortable and can enjoy the meeting.

Is every meeting the same? Does it matter to which meeting I come?
The meetings follow similar structure. For every meeting we have a detailed agenda with description of the roles and time constraints. You can take a look at such an agenda.

Advanced Manual: Facilitating Discussions

Knowing how to lead a discussion when multiple opinions are expressed and making sure that the speakers are indeed addressing the problem raised or the topic opened is not an easy job. There are people that tend to make it a monologue rather than leave others to speak too or  simply be outside of the topic just because they want to talk about different things.

This manual will help you improve exactly these skills of being a good leader in group discussions and making sure that your goal (finding a solution to a problem, debating a public interest subject) is reached. It is designed for practicing your moderator skills with different level of challenges: projects are long from 26 to 40 minutes and involve participants testing you by interruptions, taking over, refusing to participate in.

  1. The panel moderator – 28-30 minutes – This requires getting three other club members to be panelists. Each speaker will be giving short answers to questions in a four-minute speech followed by a short Q&A.  Actual objectives are:
  • Select a topic for a panel discussion
  • Identify differing viewpoints to be addressed by panelists
  • Organize and moderate a panel discussion
  1. The brainstorming session – 31-33 minutes – The whole club brainstorms a list of ideas and then chooses the three best ones. The objectives as per the manual are:
  • Select a problem for a brainstorming session for which you serve as facilitator
  • Conduct a brainstorming session
  •  Have participants reduce the list of ideas to the three best
  1. The problem-solving discussion – 26-31 minutes – Lead the group to discuss the three ideas from the previous project and vote on the best one.
  • Discuss the three ideas generated in Project 2
  • Determine which one best resolves the problem
  1. Handling challenging situations – 22-32 minutes – This one is fun. Like the previous projects, you’re leading the club members to make a decision. But four club members (chosen by someone else, so the speaker doesn’t know who they are), are assigned to be troublemakers: interrupting, taking over, or refusing to participate. The success of this project depends on how well these members play their roles and how well you can moderate a discussion.
  • Select a problem and ask club members to discuss and resolve it by either a majority vote or by compromise
  • Serve as facilitator for the discussion
  • Effectively handle any member’s behavioural problems that may interfere with the discussion
  1. Reaching a consensus – 31-37 minutes – Lead the group to discuss a problem and solutions and reach a consensus on what to do.
  • To select a problem for the group to discuss and resolve
  • As facilitator, help the group reach a consensus

We already have members that challenged themselves with this manual and we need to admit that the actual delivery of the projects was interesting and out of the ordinary! Hope to see more and more members taking this challenge!

Ioana Pop, President of BBTM

Advanced Manual: Public Relations

Every organisation, no matter how large or small, ultimately depends on its reputation for survival and success.

Customers, suppliers, employees, investors, journalists and regulators can have a powerful impact. They all have an opinion about the organisations they come into contact with – whether good or bad, right or wrong. These perceptions will drive their decisions about whether they want to work with, shop with and support these organisations.

In today’s competitive market, reputation can be a company’s biggest asset – the thing that makes you stand out from the crowd and gives you a competitive edge. Effective PR can help manage reputation by communicating and building good relationships with all organisation stakeholders. So if you have anything to do with PR in your professional life, the advanced manual ‘Public Relations’ can be a great practice for the upcoming challenges.

Let’s have a look at the 5 projects of this manual and their objectives!

Project 1: The Goodwill Speech

  • Prepare a talk that will build goodwill for your organization by supplying useful information of interest to the audience
  • Favorably influence the audience by skillful and friendly delivery of your talk

 Project 2: The Radio Talk Show  

  • Present a positive image of you and your company or organization on a simulated radio talk show
  • Prepare a talk designed to build goodwill toward an organization by presenting factual information
  • Understand the dynamics of a successful radio talk show
  • Prepare for the questions that may be asked of you during the radio interview

(Time: Three to five minutes for the presentation, plus two to three minutes for questions and answers )

Project 3: The Persuasive Approach  

  • Direct a persuasive appeal to the audience’s self-interests using a combination of fact and  emotion in a speech delivered in such a manner that it appears extemporaneous
  • Persuade the audience to adopt your viewpoint by the use of standard persuasive techniques
  • Use at least one visual aid to enhance the audience’s understanding

Project 4: Speaking Under Fire  

  • Prepare a talk to persuade a hostile audience to at least consider your position on a controversial issue
  • Demonstrate sincerity when presenting your viewpoint

(Time: Three to five minutes for the presentation, plus two to three minutes for questions and answers )

Project 5: The Crisis Management Speech  

  • Learn strategies for communicating to the media about a company crisis
  • Prepare a speech for the media about a company crisis that builds and maintains a positive image for the company
  • Answer questions from the media in a manner that reflects positively on the company

           (Time: Four to six minutes for the presentation, and three to five minutes for questions  and answers) 

Good luck with these great projects if you feel this is the manual you should chose!

Ioana Pop, President

Advanced Manual: Speaking to Inform

‘Knowledge is power!’  – We hear this quote really often and we are all well aware of the fact that the entire life we seek to find more, to learn new things or to be well informed on the topics we are interested in.

We seek knowledge for three reasons:

  • To know
  • To understand
  • To use the information

We all seek knowledge for personal and professional purposes and we often find ourselves criticising a training, a presentation or a meeting that was meant to inform us about something that it didn’t meet its purpose.

How easy it is to inform? What do we need to do to have a successful presentation to inform or a demonstration?

Toastmaster Advanced Manual Speaking to Inform (#226B) gives us a very good overview on what we need to do to achieve that. Made of 5 projects focusing on information sharing, the manual presents us the types of speeches to inform from sharing new useful information to demonstrations, presenting a report or an abstract concept.

The actual projects and their objectives are: 

Project 1: The Speech to Inform

  • Select new and useful information for presentation to the audience.
  • Organise the information for easy understandability and retention.
  • Present the information in a way that will help motivate the audience to learn.

Project 2: Resources for Informing

  • Analyse the knowledge level of your audience regarding your chosen subject.
  • Focus your presentation at the audience’s level of knowledge.
  • Build a supporting case for each major point through use of explanation, examples, and information gathered research.
  • Effectively use at least one visual aid to enhance the audience’s understanding.

Project 3: The Demonstration Talk

  •  Prepare a demonstration speech to clearly explain a process, product, or activity.
  • Conduct the demonstration as part of a speech delivered without notes.


Project 4: A Fact-Finding Report

  •  Prepare a report on a situation, event, or problem of interest to the audience.
  • Deliver sufficient factual information in your report so the audience can base valid conclusions or a sound decision on it.
  • Answer questions from the audience.

Project 5: The Abstract Concept

  •  Research and organise the thought of experts on an abstract concept, theory, historical force, or social/political issue.
  • Present the ideas in a clear and interesting manner.

It is definitely one of the best manuals to choose if your profession involves presentations of any kind as it teaches you all you need to know to make them successful!

Ioana Florentina Pop, VP PR

Advanced Manual: The entertaining speaker

The first Advanced Communication Manuals we will be looking at in more detail is called ‘The entertaining speaker’. At first touch, Toastmasters seems to be the place where you learn how to do public speeches for thousands of people! You obviously tell yourself: ‘this is not a need-to-know for me because in the company I work I never have to give presentations nor attend any meetings open to the public’. Then there is this energetic Toastmaster that will tell you:

‘Have you ever been to a wedding? Have you ever had to do thank you speech for something? Have you ever had to say a joke to save a very difficult situation when dealing with a client?’

At this moment everyone should realize that life is a long journey of public speeches. It can start with saying few words in front of your colleagues and teachers when graduating university, saying few words at the wedding of your best friend that will make everyone cry, thanking your grandmother for her long-life care for the entire family during a family reunion or simply being the one that knows how to entertain a group of friends with the right stories at the right moment. And the list is never-ending for your whole life!

This is what The Entertaining Speaker manual is about: an entertaining speech where you tell a story, a story to make the audience laugh, a dramatic talk that would keep everyone engaged or an after-dinner talk on a specific theme.

Let’s have a look at the actual projects of this manual and their objectives:

Project 1: The Entertaining Speech 

  • Entertain the audience by relating a personal experience
  • Organize an entertaining speech for maximum impact

Project 2: Resources for Entertainment  

  • Draw entertaining material from sources other than your own personal experience
  • Adapt your material to suit your topic, your own personality and the audience

Project 3: Make Them Laugh  

  • Prepare a humorous speech drawn from your own experience
  • Strengthen the speech by adopting and personalizing humorous material from outside sources
  • Deliver the speech in a way that makes the humor effective

Project 4: A Dramatic Talk  

  • Develop an entertaining dramatic talk about an experience or incident
  • Include vivid imagery, characters, and dialog
  • Deliver the talk in an entertaining manner

Project 5: Speaking After Dinner  

  • Prepare an entertaining after-dinner talk on a specific theme
  • Deliver the talk using the skills developed in the preceding projects

A very interesting manual isn’t it? Definitely worth considering it for your Advanced Communicator challenge!

Ioana Florentina Pop, VP PR

Is there life after the Competent Communication manual?

Any new member finds out quickly that in Toastmasters we use the Competent Communication manual to learn how to prepare for the 10 speeches we need to have to achieve our very first goal. It seems to be not such a long way there so once you’ve earned your Competent Communication designation, you’ll likely find that you want to continue developing your public speaking skills. One way to do this is to immediately begin working on advanced communication designations, such as Advanced Communicator Bronze, Advanced Communicator Silver and Advanced Communicator Gold.

For each of these advanced communication designations, you must complete the five projects in each of two advanced communication manuals (there are additional criteria for the Advanced Communicator Silver and Advanced Communicator Gold designations).

The complete list of Advanced Manuals is:

226-A The Entertaining Speaker

226-B Speaking to Inform

226-C Public Relations

226-D Facilitating Discussion (formerly The Discussion Leader)

226-E Specialty Speeches

226-F Speeches by Management

226-G The Professional Speaker

226-H Technical Presentations

226-I Persuasive Speaking

226-J Communicating on Television

226-K Storytelling

226-L Interpretive Reading

226-M Interpersonal Communication

226-N Special Occasion Speeches

226-O Humorously Speaking

The challenge is that it is very difficult to decide which advanced manuals you may want to choose, when all you have to go by is a picture of the cover of the manual and the very brief description offered on the Toastmasters International website. When you see the 15 titles you cannot actually figure out what are the requirements of each project in it and decide which manuals best suit you.

As ‘Yes, there is life after the Competent Communication manual’ and quite an exciting one, we will briefly take you through each of the manuals every week to help you decide  which will be the next to choose on your Advanced Communicator track.

More details on the first manual, next week.

Ioana Florentina Pop, VP PR